Home News Gazans weep, pray for loved ones killed in former school attack

Gazans weep, pray for loved ones killed in former school attack

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A mother begged her dead child to hold her hand. A young man, wrapped in bandages, cried beside the body of another man. A little boy, his face covered in dust and blood, stared blankly on the hospital floor as people around him shouted frantically.

After Israel attacked the UN school complex, a Palestinian videographer posted scenes on social media from outside the last functioning hospital in central Gaza, highlighting once again the dire plight Palestinian civilians continue to face during the eight-month war: The very places they seek refuge are often attacked.

The videos were posted to Instagram on Thursday after the attack and The New York Times confirmed they were filmed at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in the central Gaza city of Deir el-Balah.

In the early hours of Thursday, Israel launched an attack on a school complex that was housing thousands of displaced Palestinians who had taken shelter there. Dozens of people were killed. Israel said the attack targeted and killed Hamas elements. Palestinian medical workers said the attack also killed civilians.

The Gaza Health Ministry said it registered 40 bodies from the attack, 14 of which were children and nine were women.

Since Israel launched an operation to clear Hamas militants in the area, Al-Aqsa Hospital has been warning for days that the large number of casualties has overwhelmed the hospital.

Crowds gathered at the hospital on Thursday to weep and pray for the dead, with a local Palestinian photographer posting a video of a young woman cradling her son’s body.

“Open your hands,” she pleaded with the dead boy as others around her tried to wrap his body. “Answer me, you always answer me, you never like to upset me.”

Central Gaza, and especially Deir al-Balah, has seen a surge in population in recent weeks as Gazans flee Israel’s offensive on the southern city of Rafah. Before Israel launched its operation on Rafah last month, the city had been a major haven for civilians, who were urged to go there to escape fighting elsewhere. At one point, Rafah housed about half of Gaza’s population, according to UN agencies.

Displaced Gazans often try to set up tents or find apartments near UN facilities or medical units, hoping that their humanitarian purpose and the fact that aid workers often report their coordinates to the Israeli army will make them less of an easy target. But Israel has stressed throughout the war that it will strike anywhere it believes Hamas is active.

Just last week, two areas near the Rafah fighting ground were attacked, where civilians had hoped to find safety. The Israeli strike near the Rafah tent camp killed 45 people, prompting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say Civilian deaths The incident was a “tragic accident”. A few days later, another attack occurred in the Al-Mawasi area on the outskirts of Rafah, killing 21 people; Israel denied responsibility for the attack.

Khalil Farid, 57, a teacher in Nusserat, said his neighborhood had been hit so many times by the earthquake that “the windows of our house have been shattered.” But he and his family have given up on escaping.

“At home, you know who lives with you, who your neighbors are, and that makes you feel safer,” he said. “But deep down, I know that nowhere is safe.”

Nadir Ibrahim, Christian Tribert and Rawan Sheikh Ahmed Contributed reporting.

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